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ECP includes defence services, PAF officials in scrutiny committee

April 01, 2018

Islamabad : In a rare move, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has named two senior officers of the Defence Services and Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in its scrutiny committee to look into foreign funding of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

In a letter to Director General Audit Defence Services, Rawalpindi, Masood Akhtar Sherwanee and Controller Air Force Accounts, Peshawar, Muhammad Faheem, , a copy of which is available with The News, the Election Commission has asked both officers ‘to be present’ at the Election Commission Secretariat on April 03 at 9:00am for carrying out scrutiny of the PTI accounts.

Referring to the order passed by the Election Commission on March 29, 2018 in a petition/complaint under Article 6 of the Political Parties Order, 2002, the Election Commission has nominated Masood Akhtar and Muhammad Fahim as the members of the committee to probe into PTI funding case. They have been asked to report Director General (Law) of the Election Commission Muhammad Arshad on April 03 in the morning.

The Election Commission had to look for other two nominees after the two earlier members declined to be part of the committee’s proceedings; one of them was from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The letter carries signatures of the ECP Additional Secretary Dr Akhtar Nazir and its copy has been forwarded to the Auditor General of Pakistan, Deputy Secretary General of PTI and the petitioner Akbar S Babar, who had filed the petition in November 2014, alleging irregularities and embezzlement in handling of the PTI’s foreign funds. The committee has been given one month to furnish its report and present it to the Election Commission.

When contacted, Akbar S Babar termed it a defining moment of the case.

“After almost three and half years of struggle, finally a process has been initiated to conduct detailed forensic audit of the PTI foreign funding. I am hopeful that members of the committee would consider their role as a national duty which could set a positive trend for regulating the finances of political parties under the law and holding the delinquents accountable no matter how politically powerful”.

Babar sounded confident that that the PTI would not further delay the committee’s work or seek injunctions on one pretext or another, which has been their trademark to avoid the ECP scrutiny of their accounts ever since the case was first filed in November 2014.

“Lack of institutionalized accountability of political parties has allowed their leaders to treat political parties as their personal fiefdoms restricting their primary function to act as nurseries of credible leadership,” he contended.

He said if the ECP scrutiny committee conducted an unfettered forensic audit of the PTI foreign funding, as was expected of them, he had no doubt that gross violations of laws in collection and utilisation of funds from illegal sources the world over would be exposed.